Home made kefir – healthy choice on a budget

Kefir is a is a fermented milk drink very popular in Russia and other Eastern Europe countries. It is not very common in the US and the closest local match is drinkable yogurt but it contains a different type of bacteria and doesn’t exactly taste the same.

While in Ukraine I used to drink kefir regularly since I was a child and obviously when I came to the US I tried to find it in the stores. A popular US kefir producer is Chicago based Lifeway Foods (founded by a Russian immigrant by the way), you can find their diary products in Osco-Jewel and other stores.

A 32 oz. bottle of kefir sells for around $3.50 and not exactly a budget buy and so we often skipped it in our trips to the grocery store depriving ourselves from the great taste of the drink loved by many in the family. That changed recently after we discovered that we can make it at home with a very minimal effort.

Home made kefir is cheap

All we needed is kefir grains which we got from our friends but you can buy them in some health food stores (ask for kefir starter). The benefits and savings are tremendous! 32 oz of milk is 65 cents, compare it to $3.50 that the same size bottle of plain kefir will cost. If your family drinks 2 bottles a week it will result in savings of around $300 a year!

Home made kefir is healthy

The home made kefir is very beneficial to your health since it preserves the live bacteria - something diary products manufactures have mastered not too long ago (lookup the term “probiotic”). You can tailor-make kefir according to your individual taste: want it thin - use 2% or skim milk, want it flavored - add a fresh pureed fruit or maple syrup before you drink it.

Making kefir at home is easy

The overall process is extremely easy and takes at most 10 minutes of your time daily. The cycle is 24 hours but if you ever get tired of drinking kefir every day you can put it in the fridge for a week or two and let it sleep there. The bacteria gets dormant (the life process slows down) and will give you the break you need.

Kefir making instructions

1. Place kefir grains in a clean glass jar

2. Cover with 16-32 fl. oz of milk (depending on the amount of grains)

3. Cover with a cheese cloth and let it brew for 24 hours (or until it reaches desired sourness)

4. When kefir is ready, strain grains from kefir milk

5. Rinse the kefir grains with clean water and reuse for the next cycle

6. Enjoy your healthy drink!

Sources for more info:

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7 Responses to “Home made kefir – healthy choice on a budget”

  1. 1 mikeg Nov 23rd, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Great post. I remember my dad chugging this stuff at home straight from the bottle. I think I was too young to appreciate it. Anyway, nice job, I’m making some this week. Will send you pics.

  2. 2 meesha.v Nov 23rd, 2008 at 9:24 am

    my mom has been making it for years, she actually keeps kefir grains in a little cheesecloth pouch so no straining needed. they don’t need to be rinsed every time so it works out pretty well. she also makes farmers cheese (tvorog) by slowly heating up kefir until it separates and then straining it.

  3. 3 Alex Nov 23rd, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Nice post. I guess the next one should be – how to make your own bacon ;)

    mmm… ba-a-acon ;)

    I’ve see some similar posts on how to make your own laundry detergent, etc. Seems like you save some money but you spend more time making it. I wonder how does one figure out the moment when the time you spend making stuff at home actually costs you more than just going to Walgreens and getting it. Time is money.

    I may make some kefir though – for the nostalgic value, I do have some wine fermenting in two one-gallon jugs as we speak. It should be ready by Christmas. ;)

  4. 4 Yan Nov 23rd, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I used to make my own bread. No, not from the mix – the real stuff! That lasted for about a year and then I dropped it. Everyone loved fresh home made bread but it was taking way too much time. :-(

    Your wine reminds me of my dad. He used to make this stuff every year and even brought some on occasion when I was in my last year in the university. All my friends were thrilled to see the 10 liter jars ;-)

    I have seen a couple posts about home made detergent and didn’t quite get the idea. Savings are really small and the gratification is not quite there. Making your own food (and tasting it together with your family) is a bit different. :-)

  5. 5 Ma Mousa Jun 14th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Nice describtion. I am dying to try it. Please tell me where I can purchase the kefir grains from. Not many people in health food stores know exactly what I am talking about. They often suggest the starter packs for about $4.50 for 6. I would appreciate you tips.
    Thanks!!! I love kefir to the MAX!!! My body craves for it went I travel. Good Stuff. :)

  6. 6 marina Sep 28th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I have a question – mine comes out carbonated tasting – left for 12 hrs (also not very thick – like 1/2 and 1/2 -am I doing something wrong?

  7. 7 M. Hopson Aug 25th, 2011 at 1:04 am

    oh yeah I’ve tried making one myself and it does taste delicious. Actually, at first i didn’t like to make my own, but a video I watched convinced me otherwise. I made yogurt first and it did taste good (maybe my brain’s telling me it tastes good because I made it :P ), then I researched more probiotic homemade food and found this :D I also found recipes on how to make kombucha, which is a good probiotic source as well. btw, here’s the link to the video I saw :

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